This week I'm calling references for a couple of our short-listed candidates for the search for which I'm the non-departmental committee member.
(That was a cumbersome sentence. I will let it stand.)
I am not a big User of Phones. Really not. In fact, my cell phone only rings about four times a month--and two of those will be from the fellow whom I call "My Captain," because when he calls, I first hear a foghorn and then a recorded message saying, "Hello, this is your captain speaking," and am offered a free trip to somewhere (I hang up before they get to the destination. Or maybe I've just forgotten). Apart from My Captain, I sometimes get a call from CVS telling me that my prescription is ready to be picked up, and occasionally my alma mater (undergrad) calls me to ask for money.
And this is my fault, really, because I never call anyone. Before TM and I lived together, I did get some more calls, but now I basically pay $50 a month for an alarm clock and time-keeper for my seminar (where there is no clock. Oh, and most of my calls come through during that seminar, too).
Annnnyway, all this is to say that I don't like calling people whom I don't know. I get very nervous. And these calls in particular made me very nervous--like, I was having flashbacks to waiting for telephone interviews a couple of years ago. Jittery and sweaty and whatnot. I had to go into TM's office and ask him to talk me down--he was so baffled by me that he couldn't say much to help, but his very bafflement did in fact help.
Of course the calls are going perfectly fine. Lovely, in fact. Everyone is happy to talk about his or her grad student/visiting colleague. They say delightful things and now I really want to meet, and then hire, both of these people. I've completed five out of my six calls.
But I was really especially nervous about calling some of the references, I think, because they're tenured faculty at Big Fancy Universities, and here I am pretending to be, like, a colleague of theirs. So the whole time we're talking, they don't know how old I am! They don't know that I'm not dressed particularly well (because my office is freezing, seriously, so yes I am wearing a bright red zippered cardigan over a dark red button-down, and yes I do have on long underwear)! They don't know that I'm not a senior person, and when I say things like, "We want our faculty to feel that they can continue to pursue their research," they don't know that I'm a junior professor who has no business saying things like that! In fact, they don't know that I have no business calling myself a professor at all, ha ha ha ha ha!
See what I did there? Yep, that's the crux of the anxiety, I think. Most days--at least in the context of Field--I have no real impostor syndrome anymore. I inhabit my role quite comfortably. But when I come into contact with certain contexts...well, let's just say that I do not radiate unflappable confidence.